After China, Macau, Hong Kong, ‘expanded’ travel ban now includes Taiwan

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday announced the expansion of the travel ban that would now include tourists from Taiwan.

“We have confirmed with the Department of Justice [DOJ], which is our mother department, that Taiwan is indeed included in the expanded travel ban,” said BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.

Last February 2, the BI implemented an order from President Duterte banning all foreign nationals coming from China, as well as its Special Administrative Regions.

The President’s directive said any passenger of any nationality who has been to China, Hong Kong, and Macau within 14 days before coming to the Philippines would automatically be denied entry. Only Filipino citizens and aliens with permanent resident visas from said countries may be allowed entry.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), meanwhile, said it has canceled all flights to Taiwan “in compliance with the Philippine government’s order expanding the travel ban to include Taiwan along with other areas in Greater China.”

“We are constrained to cancel all our flights between Manila and Taipei effective immediately, until further notice.”

The canceled flights are PR 890/891 Manila-Taipei-Manila and PR 894/895 Manila-Taipei-Manila.

PAL said the expanded directive temporarily bans the entry of any person, regardless of nationality— except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visa issued by the Philippine  government—who come directly from Greater China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, or who had been to China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan within 14 days prior to their arrival in the Philippines.

The government directive also temporarily bans Filipinos from traveling to points in greater China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

“These restrictions are in relation to the coronavirus situation, in the interest of public health and safety,” the PAL statement added.

According to the BI, permanent resident aliens are those who were issued immigrant visas under the Philippine Immigration Act, those who are residents pursuant to the Alien Legalization Program under Executive Order 324, or the Alien Social Integration Program under Republic Act 7919, holders of native born visas; aliens who acquired permanent resident status by reasons of marriage to a Filipino, and aliens with approved refugee status.

However, questions from different agencies sought clarification if Taiwan is included in the ban.

“While not explicitly stated, we have confirmed with the secretary of justice that Taiwan is indeed part of the ban and this expansion shall be implemented immediately,” Morente said.

The same clarification was earlier raised by the Department of Health (DOH).

Morente announced that the travel ban will be implemented immediately, and will follow the same procedure.

Under the guidelines, if a foreign passenger not exempted from the ban is encountered at the ports, he or she shall be automatically denied entry and returned to his or her port of origin.

Filipinos and aliens who are exempted from the ban shall be turned over to the Bureau of Quarantine for their assessment, together with a copy of their arrival cards.

Filipinos are, likewise, temporarily not allowed to leave for China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan unless they are part of a government delegation conducting official duties, a member of the World Health Organization, and other agencies involved in fighting, or containing the 2019-nCoV-ARD.

Morente stressed that the measure is temporary.

“We are implementing the directive of President Duterte following the recommendations of the Department of Health,” said Morente. “Other countries have been implementing similar measures, we appeal to the public to bear with us as we implement this, as this is a measure seen by the DOH to effectively prevent the further spread of this virus,” he added.

PAL said it had advised passengers with flights to and from Taiwan from February 11 onward to wait the lifting of the ban.

“If your flight was canceled, you may refund your ticket at any time, with refund fees waived. Once the travel ban is lifted and we reinstate our flights, you may rebook, reroute, or refund your ticket within your ticket’s validity period, with rebooking, rerouting or refund fees waived.”

For tickets purchased from travel agencies, PAL tells passengers may contact their travel agent for rebooking, rerouting or refunding.

PAL passengers who are in Taipei and whose flights to Manila have been canceled as a result of the travel ban may contact PAL at 02-2506-7255 or 8862-2506-7255.

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